Entertainment: Happenings Are Happening

In the beginning, there was the word.

The beginning was 1959, and the word was happening. Drawing on the antics of Dadaism and surrealism, Manhattan Artist Allan Kaprow decided to stage a series of highly unorthodox, one-shot performances for a handful of friends in Greenwich Village. Read the invitation: "Think of a buying spree at Macy's; how to grow geraniums in New York. Do not look for paintings, sculpture, the dance or music."

There were paintings, sculpture, dance and music—of a sort. At the happenings that Kaprow and his colleagues staged, the "actors" splashed paint on canvas, played electronic John Cage...